The $3.4 Billion Sentence

The $3.4 Billion Sentence

Did you ever have something incidental become monumental?

It happened to me, thanks to my son. One single sentence. Just nine words. When I first heard it, I didn’t perceive it would be a life-changer.

The next day I mentioned it in a seminar to the real estate agents I coach. My son, Brian, was in the audience. Afterward he enthused, “Dad, that was UNBELIEVABLE!”“Wow,” I said. “You liked the seminar?”

“The seminar was okay,” he said, “but one sentence really made me think about my priorities today.”

“Which sentence?” I asked.

Brian reminded me,

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

-John Paul DeJoria

He was right. This was a lesson I learned when I was fortunate to meet John Paul DeJoria. We were talking backstage prior to an event where he was the keynote speaker. I figured he might know something about prioritizing since his estimated net worth is $3.4 billion. DeJoria founded Paul Mitchell Systems (hair care products) and Patron Spirits Company (think tequila).

I asked if he could share one single lesson that was most responsible for his astounding success. That sentence was the lesson.

DeJoria said that while he was building his first company he quickly became swamped with others who tried to influence him to follow their agendas, buy their products, go to their meetings, contribute to their causes and do an array of things that were not directly focused on his success. He shared that while it’s good to help others, it’s destructive to let others keep us from focusing on our priorities. I have been sharing DeJoria’s lesson ever since.

In case you don’t know, DeJoria was homeless and living in his car in 1980 when he began his hair care company with his $350 life savings (his partner, Paul Mitchell, also kicked in $350).

When the partners’ first box of products arrived, they prioritized their lives to make their company a success, selling shampoo door to door. After two years, they were finally able to pay their bills on time. Today it is the most profitable hair care company on the planet, generating $1 billion in annual revenue.

As an example of DeJoria’s singular focus, he hasn’t sent or answered an email message in 24 years. I know what you’re thinking. He’s got an army of minions to email for him. While that’s true now, it wasn’t over two decades ago.

Dejoria claimed eliminating emails from his life was one of the key reasons he reached his level of success. He made up his mind to communicate with fewer people in a personal way, by phone, in person, or by real letters (mostly handwritten). That’s it.

I think often (almost every day) about the lesson I learned from DeJoria. The question I ask myself?

If you let others prioritize your life, is it really your life?

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